Preface by: Norbert H. O. Duckwitz
Product Code: 8660
ISBN: 978-0-86516-866-4
Publisher: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers
Pages: 290
Availability: In stock
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The Gospel of John—Made Accessible to All
With Introduction, Notes, Vocabulary, and Grammatical Appendix

Reading the Gospel of St. John in Greek: A Beginning empowers students at all levels to read and appreciate the Gospel of St. John and biblical Greek as a whole. The combination of text, vocabulary, and grammatical notes on one page enhances the reading experience for both practiced and beginning readers of Greek. Readers with training in classical, Homeric, or biblical Greek will find that the format enables rapid reading, comprehension, and retention. Readers with little to no Greek language training will be able to work directly with text from the New Testament, in conjunction with the intro-duction and appendix, in order to develop proficiency with biblical grammar, vocabulary, and idiom.


  • Entire Greek text of St. John’s Gospel
  • Text, vocabulary, and notes on each page
  • Greek to English glossary
  • Introduction to Greek alphabet, pronunciation, cases, tenses, and moods
  • Grammatical appendix

Read the Gospel of St. John without a separate dictionary or grammar book.


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Review by: Wilfred Major, Classical Outlook Vol. 98, No. 3 - October 1, 2023

The Gospel of John literally begins at the beginning and closes with the assertion that a cosmos of books could not contain everything relevant to its narrative. Described this way, the text of John can be an inspired invitation to learn Greek: begin at the beginning and a universe of books do not contain all there is to learn subsequently. The arrival of Norbert H.O. Duckwitz’s beginning Greek textbook scaffolded on the Gospel of John makes this truly unique and innovative volume more easily and widely available. Given its unique focus and approach, teachers of ancient Greek who are seeking a meaningfully different way to introduce students to the language, with material that is undeniably authentic and resonant in the Greek tradition, should seriously consider whether this (and/ or its companion volumes, on which, see below) will fit them and their students.

In brief, this is an introductory Greek textbook built around reading the Gospel of John in the original Greek without omissions or alterations, from beginning to end. Beyond the alphabet and a very broad survey of the language, Duckwitz presumes no knowledge or experience of Greek. From the very first words, the famous ?? ???? ??, notes on the page with the text explain and develop the language that students see and hear. By the end of the Gospel, the notes are devoted to only idioms, analysis of rarer forms, and succinct points of comparison with other parts of the text. In between, students build up core knowledge and skills for reading and comprehending Greek. The remainder of the volume compiles a reference grammar (fifty pages total) and a vocabulary. Thus the idea is simple: students work through a complete Gospel, learning what vocabulary and grammar they need as the text moves along, and by the end students have experience with a useful beginner’s core of the language and thorough exposure to one of the most impactful texts in the language.

While it would be easy to dismiss the premise, I encourage teachers to take this volume seriously, as well as its companion volumes on the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, for a dedicated and thoughtful way to recast introduction to the language, even teachers who, for a variety of reasons, are sure not to use it themselves. There is really nothing else like it, and no matter what method or materials a teacher does use, working through this volume is bound to bring up ideas and perspectives that will enrich their teaching. I say this because no other beginning Greek textbook or method in modern times combines text and explication as these books do. To be sure, there are other beginning approaches that build out practice with the language from a continuous narrative or group of narratives, but they are all constructed and scaled in some way, not a deep dive into an established text without any alteration or omissions. Duckwitz provides a direct and understated introduction to his method, but it is clear that he is unapologetic in key ways. He does not fret about the order of topics and varying complexity of the text. (As a pedagogical advocate who champions the importance of order of presentation, I note this with admiration.) The achievement and dedication to the unaltered ancient text become paramount. Duckwitz points simply to decades of experience and success. Students who successfully complete this volume are prepared to move on to other meaningful texts. The other Gospels and other parts of the New Testament are obvious next steps, but choices are hardly limited to those. The Gospels are such core readings for all subsequent Christian writers in Greek that centuries of important writings become legitimate candidates. In an age when Late Antiquity, the Medieval world, and Byzantine traditions continue draw ever more interest, but with so few devotees comfortable with Greek, this itself has much to recommend it. Adherents of Classical Greek should not be quick to dismiss the lessons here, either. Beyond the exceptionally brilliant student who absorbs the vast amount of data presented in the gigantic tomes that pass for beginning Greek textbooks in recent decades, students (and, to be honest, many teachers) after beginning Greek have uneven control over even fundamentals of the language as they move on to the intermediate level. They can do worse (and many do) than have the Greek of this Gospel as a solid core from which to launch into more complex and sophisticated texts.

Duckwitz deserves credit for not assuming or pretending that novice readers intuitively understand or know the mechanics of the language. He is pragmatic in his explanations. He expects dedication and thoughtfulness but is never condescending about his presentation. Furthermore, compared to most introductions to Biblical Greek, Duckwitz refrains from dogmatic and even much exegetical commentary, leaving such discussions to teachers and students. The one area where I find that Duckwitz is less successful is the balancing act between comprehension and translation, given that at times he does not draw a substantial distinction between the two. While there are practical and valid limitations to what promises worthwhile returns for novice readers, I think at times resorting to translation as gloss offers little value and potentially disheartens a reader. For a text like this, in an age when multiple translations can be summoned with a few clicks on a keyboard, the default should be some explication about how the original Greek works.

As noted earlier, this volume actually belongs to a set. Bolchazy has already published Duckwitz’s analogous volumes for the Gospel of Matthew (2014) and Mark (2011). Each one is designed as a starting point in itself, but their similarities mean that they logically and profitably can be used in tandem or in sequence. I look forward to the day when Luke completes the set, not least because it will facilitate parallel reading and learning across all three synoptic Gospels. This reader of the Gospel of John, however, I would suggest, for the simplicity of its language and distinctness of its narrative, makes the most sense as the first reader for beginners. Indeed, it was the first that Duckwitz completed. This edition is a lightly revised version of Caratzas edition of 2002, and again it is welcome to have this volume widely available and in renewed quality.

Finally, I want to comment on the value of this volume in the context of the substantial and growing challenges that the teaching and learning of Greek face today. As enrollments and awareness of the tradition of the Greek language shrink continually, the focus of beginning Greek textbooks has paradoxically and unhelpfully remained narrow and unnecessarily siloed. The division of Classical from Koine from Biblical Greek is one such discrimination of almost no practical consequence for beginners, but one they are forced to confront. I have preached that one strategy that teachers of Greek should embrace is a much more expansive perspective on the readings that are open and inviting to beginning and intermediate readers (both chronologically, like medieval readings that build on the text in this reader, and topically, to include STEM material and more). The Greek texts of the Christian New Testament rank among the most widely known and impactful readings in human history. For both those who are not adherents of the Christian faith and those who are, exploring these readings in the original is to explore and start understanding world history along a path not available anywhere else. Any teacher of the language with any perspicacious integrity should know that strand of the tradition, and all should evaluate honestly whether their teaching would benefit from an approach and reading like this volume. The experience of their students would certainly be enhanced.

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